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Surgical Technician holding Surgical Technologists stethiscope, wearing scrubs.

Surgical Technologists: Tools You’ll Want to Know!

Surgical technologists also called operating room techs or scrub techs, aid surgeons in the operating room. Surgical techs prepare the operating room by prepping and arranging the surgical tools. Surgical techs also exchange instruments to and from the surgeons during surgery.  Knowing the tools is key to a successful career as a tech. Here is a peek into some of the tools that surgical technologists handle on a daily basis.

Instruments are categorized into categories such as cutting, holding, hemostatic, retractors, clamps and distractors, accessories and implants.

Cutting instruments

This class of tools is used to make incisions or make cuts to remove tissue.

  • Mayo scissors (straight): These scissors cut tissue.  They are also often used during suturing.
  • Bone cutter: As the name states, this tool is used to cut bones.
  • Curette: Curettes are used to cut or scrape tissue during a biopsy.
  • Scalpel: Also known as a lancet, a scalpel is available in several sizes. Scalpels are used to create incisions and cut tissue.

Grasping and holding instruments

This class of tools holds tissues and picks up objects.

  • Backhaus Towel Clamp: This tool is used to secure drapes.
  • Pennington forceps: These forceps have triangular-shaped jaws and are used to hold flesh open.
  • Allis clamp: This clamp holds body tissues.
  • Babcock clamp: This clamp can hold more fragile tissues e.g. uterine tissue
  • Sponge forceps: With a circular hole in the tips, these forceps hold gauze to help stop bleeding during operations.

Hemostatic instruments

This class of tools is used to stop or control bleeding.

  • Kelly hemostat (curved): With grooves only on the top part of the jaw, this tool clamps small to medium blood vessels.
  • Kelly hemostat (straight): The straight hemostat clamps larger vessels.
  • Halstead hemostat: This tool focuses on small vessels.


Retractors hold tissues open.

  • Rib spreader: As the name implies, this retractor holds the ribs open.
  • Gelpi retractor: Set the locks on this retractor and it will hold its tension, keeping the tissues open for viewing purposes.
  • Senn retractor: Unlike the Gelpi retractor, the Senn retractor does not hold itself open by itself. A person must hold it open.

Clamps and distractors

Clamps are tools that hold a tissue in place.

  • Rochester-Pean Clamp: With a serrated jaw, surgeons use this clamp for heavy tissue.
  • Doyen intestinal clamp: Because this clamp has a tip made partly of plastic, it does not crush tissue. Surgeons use this while working on intestines or other large organs.

Accessories and implants

  • Surgical sutures: Sutures are an option to close wounds or incisions.
  • Surgical staples: Surgeons use these to close incisions or dissections.
  • Cautery: Cautery refers to any tool used to cauterize.
  • Suction tubes: Tubes remove excess fluids from the body.
  • Surgical needles: Surgeons use needle-holding forceps to hold a need to close a wound or incision.
Contact us to learn more about surgical technology classes and how MCC can help you get started on your new career!